TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning make a brief one-game visit home to play the Washington Capitals on Thursday, but after four consecutive road games prior and three more to go after, being back in Tampa feels more like a visit than a homecoming.
"To be honest, this is game five of the road trip for us," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "This is no different than going into a road city. We jumped in here, the only difference is that we are not staying in a hotel. You come in, you play, you leave the next day and go to the next city. And we have three more cities. We've treated this like an eight-game road trip."
Tampa Bay will still be without their top goaltender, Ben Bishop, who is on injured reserve with a sprained right wrist sustained during the opening minutes of a Jan. 5 game against the Edmonton Oilers. He is eligible to return Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, but there are no guarantees.
"I don't know," Cooper said. "The concern will end when he comes in and says, 'Coach, I'm ready to go.' He can't play until Tuesday; that would be the earliest he is eligible to play. I just hope at that time that he's ready to go. It's like the sprained ankle, sprained wrist, sprained anything; he may come off IR but he's still not ready to go."
Anders Lindback will carry the load in goal, backed by Cedrick Desjardins.
"He's been looking good in practice and he's ready to go," Cooper said of Lindback. "This is his time right now so I'm sure he's pretty excited to seize it."
Desjardins, recalled from the Syracuse Crunch on Jan. 6, has yet to see any game action during his current call-up, and the airline lost his equipment en route to Winnipeg. He skated Thursday morning in an old set of pads that date from his time with the Montreal Canadiens and a set of skates borrowed from goaltending coach Frantz Jean.
"I just want to know, in today's day and age, how Cedrick Desjardins does not have his own pads yet?" Cooper asked. "They have circled North America. I think they are in Winnipeg now, so they are just going to follow us around. They'll end up in Philly on Friday or Saturday. Maybe Sunday."
Philipp Grubauer will get the start in goal for the Capitals after Braden Holtby gave up five goals on 11 shots in a 5-3 loss Saturday at the Minnesota Wild. Grubauer is 5-2-3 in 11 appearances with a 2.20 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He had started five straight games prior to Saturday.
Forward Aaron Volpatti is expected to enter the lineup on the fourth line with Martin Erat a healthy scratch, while on defense Connor Carrick takes the place of Steve Oleksy.
Brooks Laich – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovski – Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera – Marcus Johansson – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Mike Green
John Erskine – Connor Carrick
Scratched: Martin Erat, Steve Oleksy, Michal Neuvirth
Martin St. Louis – Tyler Johnson – Ondrej Palat
Teddy Purcell – Valtteri Filppula- Alex Killorn
Ryan Malone – Nate Thompson – Nikita Kucherov
Tom Pyatt – B.J. Crombeen
Eric Brewer – Radko Gudas
Sami Salo – Victor Hedman
Matthew Carle – Mark Barberio
Scratched: J.T. Brown, Andrej Sustr, Richard Panik
Injured: Keith Aulie, Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop